Actress Dascha Polanco has opened up about her assault case and alleged extortion plot which left her depressed for months.
Michelle Cardona, then 17 years old, filed a police report suggesting the Orange is the New Black star violently attacked her in July (15) during a fight at Polanco's apartment.
She was charged with assault, attempted assault and harassment, but last month (Mar16) the actress agreed to to a conditional dismissal deal, and the charges will be expunged if the 33-year-old stays out of trouble for six months, according to the New York Daily News.
Polanco has maintained her innocence throughout the ordeal, and in a new interview with the New York Post, she admits she was blindsided by the charges, saying, "At the moment, I didn’t understand the severity of the accusations. Me, Dascha? I never got suspended in school. My heart dropped."
The actress says the eight-month-legal battle caused her to fall into a depression, especially because she was worried the repercussions could mar her burgeoning acting career, which has included a stint as Jennifer Lawrence's best friend in David O. Russell's Joy.
Weeks before the movie premiered in December (15), Polanco reveals the moment she realized she had to let the acclaimed director know of the news that was about to surface.
"This is my moment, and I have to deal with this case. I thought, 'Oh my God, I had to call David O. Russell,'" she recalls. "He gave me the most supportive and genuine answer. He said, 'I know who you are, and I’m your friend. Everything else doesn’t matter.'"
But even when she appeared on the red carpet for the film's premiere, Polanco admits she had a difficult time showing her own Joy, saying, "I was so saddened and depressed. It was hard for me to show my face."
As for the case itself, sources say the alleged incident stemmed from Cardona's reported relationship with Polanco's then-fiance. The actress had no idea who the teen was until the day of the alleged assault, which left Cardona with only superficial abrasions and bruising, according to her medical records.
After she was served with the charges, Polanco says, "They (police) took my fingerprints. I wanted to die. Cops were asking me to take selfies with them."
According Polanco, Cardona continued to harass her, allegedly telling people close to the actress, "Tell her to give us this amount and we’ll drop the charges.'"
Eventually, a family friend recorded Cardona's extortion attempts on the phone, with Polanco saying, "She said that she wanted money for plastic surgery: 'I wanna get a** and t**ties.'"
Eager to move on from the incident, Polanco admits the entire ordeal has changed her forever, confessing, "I’m so paranoid."
"I changed socially," she continued. "That day (in court) wasn’t a celebration. It was a life lesson. Only the ones that build your trust deserve your love and affection."